This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Nagorno-Karabakh almost empty as most of population flees to Armenia

More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians - almost the entire population - have left Nagorno-Karabakh since Azerbaijan attacked and ordered the breakaway region's militants to disarm, the Armenian government said on Saturday. Armenia is seeking aid from the European Union to help it cope with the influx of refugees.

A spokesperson for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said 100,417 people had arrived in Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh, which had a population of around 120,000 before Azerbaijan took back control of the separatist region last week.

More than 20,000 vehicles have crossed the Hakari Bridge, the only route that links Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, since last week, the spokesperson said.

"At most a few hundred persons remain, most of whom are officials, emergency services employees, volunteers, some persons with special needs," a former separatist official, Artak Beglaryan, wrote on social media.

Yerevan has accused Azerbaijan of conducting a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" to clear Nagorno-Karabakh of its Armenian population.

Spectre of 1915 Armenian genocide looms over Nagorno-Karabakh

But Baku has denied the claim and has publicly called on the Armenian residents of the territory to stay and "reintegrate" into Azerbaijan.

The country's foreign ministry says the exodus of the region's residents was "their personal and individual decision and has nothing to do with forced relocation".

International assistance

Armenia has asked the European Union for assistance to help it deal with refugees arriving from Nagorno-Karabakh, the office of Italy's prime minister Giorgia Meloni said on Saturday.

Armenia has asked the EU for temporary shelters and medical supplies, the Italian prime minister's office said in a statement.

Meanwhile the United Nations has said it will send a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh this weekend, mainly to assess humanitarian needs. It will be the first time the international body has had access to the region in about 30 years.

France criticised Azerbaijan for only allowing the mission in after most residents had already fled.

Azerbaijan slams French 'interference' on Nagorno-Karabakh

Internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Baku three decades ago and was at the centre of two wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Throughout the conflict Azerbaijan and the separatists backed by Armenia have accused each other of targeted attacks, massacres and other atrocities, leaving people on both sides deeply suspicious and fearful.

While Azerbaijan has pledged to respect the rights of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, most say they do not trust Azerbaijani authorities to treat them humanely or to guarantee them their language, religion and culture.

(with newswires)